Cypress trees are native to the Holy Land.
The cypress tree was one of the tallest trees in Palestine. Its branches appeared to reach to heaven and is often associated with death and the hope of heaven. The ancients believed that, as the trees were always green and pointed towards heaven, they could help souls to rise upwards - which is why they are often to be found planted near graves.
Cypress wood is known for its durability, and in Biblical times was widely used for ship-building. It was a favourite building material of early Phoenician ship builders.
Beams of cypress wood were straight and durable, and were used as structural timbers in buildings. It is one of the tree types that were brought to Jerusalem at the time of King Solomon for the construction of the Temple.
In Genesis, the story is told of the landscape of the earth being destroyed by the great flood. Several translations of the Bible state that Noah used cypress wood in the construction of the ark. Cypress wood has a resin that would have acted as an efficient barrier against water seeping into wood and sinking the ark. The ark survived. As a consequence, the tree has been associated with immortality and was (and still is) to be found planted in cemeteries.
“Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch”.
1 Kings 5:8
“Hiram sent word to Solomon, ‘I have heard the message that you have sent to me; I will fulfill all your needs in the matter of cedar and cypress timber’ ”.
1 Kings 5:10
“So Hiram supplied Solomon’s every need for timber of cedar and cypress”.
1 Kings 6:15
“He lined the walls of the house on the inside with boards of cedar; from the floor of the house to the rafters of the ceiling, he covered them on the inside with wood; and he covered the floor of the house with boards of cypress.”
1 Kings 6:34
“And two doors of cypress wood; the two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding".
1 Kings 9:11
“King Hiram of Tyre having supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress timber and gold, as much as he desired, King Solomon gave to Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee”.
2 Kings 19:23
“By your messengers you have mocked the Lord, and you have said, ‘With my many chariots I have gone up the heights of the mountains, to the far recesses of Lebanon; I felled its tallest cedars, its choicest cypresses; I entered its farthest retreat, its densest forest’ ”.
2 Chronicles 2:8
“Send me also cedar, cypress, and algum timber from Lebanon, for I know that your servants are skilled in cutting Lebanon timber. My servants will work with your servants”.
2 Chronicles 3:5
“The nave he lined with cypress, covered it with fine gold, and made palms and chains on it”.
“The cypresses exult over you, the cedars of Lebanon, saying, ‘Since you were laid low, no one comes to cut us down’ ”.
“By your servants you have mocked the Lord, and you have said, ‘With my many chariots I have gone up the heights of the mountains, to the far recesses of Lebanon; I felled its tallest cedars, its choicest cypresses; I came to its remotest height, its densest forest’ ”.
“I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive; I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together”.
“Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the LORD for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off”.
“The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane, and the pine, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will glorify where my feet rest”.
“O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; your faithfulness comes from me”.
“Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen, for the glorious trees are ruined! Wail, oaks of Bashan, for the thick forest has been felled!”